Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Work vs Art

I have just realised it has been over a week since I posted to my blog.

Work is getting in the way of my art.

How often does that happen? Too often.

So, I shall share a short snippet of what photography and art mean to me:

"Every moment that Mother Earth shares with me is Awe-Filled.
I stand before her beauty, stripped to the bones of my soul.
It is this naked moment I ache to capture, and share with you." 

Blessed be

Saturday, 9 August 2014

To flash, or not to flash - that is the question

When working on the making of a photo, you need to assess the available light. 

Will the available light create an image that conveys the feeling that you had when you first conceived it?

Does the colour of the ambient light create the mood?

Can you work with the ambient light, or do you need to supplement it? Will you need gel filters for your flash to match the ambient light?

Or do you just want to kill the ambient light, and provide flash only?

That is what I decided to do for this image.

To capture this I used an optical slave on my SB23, and bounced the on camera flash (reduced to 1/128) off a chopping board behind the flower to trigger the SB23.

However, for the next image, I scoped out the shot ahead of time. I used the Photographers Ephemeris to find out when the sun would be in the right position to capture the shot. Time of year plays a part when you are making landscape shots. The sun rises in a different place every day. Late June, early July would have been best for this image, but I did not want to wait another 10-11 months to capture it.

So, we went out this morning, knowing just how to get to the spot I needed to make the photo. 

We headed out in sunshine, which turned into low cloud on the way.


Still, we continued, just in case the sun peeped out through the cloud. And, as cloud cover is a huge diffuser, there was a chance that the clouds would thin enough to create the perfect shot. 

Sure enough, just as we packed up to leave after waiting for nearly 2 hours, the sun shone through and we captured this shot. 

Have a wonderful day.


ps - check out my website for more images framing-light.com

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Flash formulas

I just keep on learning new stuff!

Flash units have a GN number. You can use this to determine your aperture. If you divide the GN by the distance that the flash is from what you are photographing, it gives you your aperture.

GN numbers are in feet and also in meters, make sure you use the correct one!

Aperture controls the flash. The shutter speed controls the ambient light.

So, you set your shutter speed to how much light you want to show in the background, and then use the calculation to define the distance of subject from flash (GN/A). Too fast and the shutter will not fire in correct sync with your flash, and you get dark lines through your image. Set your aperture to suit.  You can set an SS to be as fast or as slow as your flash can handle. For modern flash units this is around 1/200 or some up to 1/320.

Use manual mode - it gives you more control. Set the flash to manual, and your in-camera flash to manual, but turn the camera flash down as low as you can, unless you want front on light.

This way you can turn your flash right down, and use an off camera flash to create what ever lighting effect you want.

Have fun!


Sunday, 3 August 2014


I continue to play with backlight - I really love the effect.

Finally I have created a selfie image I am happy with.

Using a torch for illumination, and with the assistance of my assistant, I focused on the spot I needed to be in, set the camera to timer mode, framed and focused, then set off the timer. My assistant held the torch.

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Fill flash

I have been watching some Bryan Peterson videos today, "You keep shooting". 

He uses fill flash a lot.

What is fill flash, I hear you ask?

Fill flash is when you use your flash to fill in light in the foreground. It can be used when shooting backlit subjects. It can be used to kill ambient light. It can be used to isolate your 'subject' from the background. Fill flash is a very handy tool.

Firstly, you need an off camera flash. You can use your fixed flash, but it lacks the flexibility of an off camera flash. It can only illuminate the foreground of what is in front of the lens.

I picked an old second hand flash up from trademe that works very nicely as a fill flash. It took a bit of fiddling to work out how to make the most of it, I admit. With the use of a $12 slave module that I attach to the bottom of the unit, I can use the camera on command mode, and hand hold the flash to direct it as I want.

As you can imagine, this opens up untold creative possibilities.

By shooting in timer mode, you can move about and direct the flash to deliver light right where you want it. You can kill ambient light, and bring backlight, sidelight, or front light onto your subject. You can light from above or below. Watch this video of Bryan's, you will see what I mean. 

Happy shooting!

Monday, 28 July 2014

Illusion, or real?

I highly recommend Galen Rowell's book  'Inner Game of Outdoor Photography'.

He raises some really interesting ideas. One is how we see, vs how the camera sees. Another is how to portray what we see, to others.

So, I have been pondering this largely right brain question all day. Being a right brain question, it is exceedingly difficult for me to find the correct language to portray it. But here goes. . .

The image we paint, with a brush or with light (photography), is an illusion. What we see on the paper or on canvas is not real. (One can, of course, now ask the question - but how real is what we THINK we see 'out there' in the 'real world'. But that is another subject.)

A painting or a photo is but a facsimile of the real thing.
In order to create an illusion that the viewer will perceive as real, we only need to fire enough neurons for the viewer to BELIEVE they recognise the reality behind the illusion.

As less is more, then the less we put in, the more remains for the viewer's imagination to image-in the image in their own way.

Let me say that again. Less is more. Therefore, the less you 'add' to a 'painting', the more the viewer has to use their own imagination to fill in the blanks. This creates an emotional tension that engages the viewer.

So, I wish to open a debate.

How, as artists, can we effectively create illusions that hint at reality without actually painting in the facts to the point that nothing is left to the imagination?

Frank Dorhoff does a great job of creating illusion. How can we find our own style of 'illusion making' without being copy cats of another's work?

We may admire other artists, but we need to find our own artistic voice. This is a real journey of discovery for me, and I guess many artists.

Any ideas?


Saturday, 26 July 2014

Depth of field

When I first started with a non point and shoot, I really struggled with the concept of f-stops.

I mean - the bigger the number the smaller the hole? But does that mean a wide depth of field (DOF) or a narrow DOF. And what does DOF really mean anyway?

DOF is depth of field. It is how much of your image is in focus - how much of the image 'plane'.

Ok - but what does that MEAN?

 Try this for a brief explanation: (will open in a new window).

Once I actually understood DOF, I had to continually think about it when setting apertures. "If the number goes up - or down - what does it do to my DOF?"

So, todays quick tip - think of your aperture this way. The smaller the number, the narrower the DOF, the bigger the number, the wider (bigger) the DOF. 

So, if you wish to isolate something in your image, you need a narrow DOF - a smaller number.

Zoom vs wide angle complicates the whole DOF thing - get to know your lens and the effects aperture has on DOF at each setting. But that is another post . . . 

26th July 2014

What did I learn today?

Apart from the reading I am doing - and I will share that with you another time - I am bookmarking and watching videos of professional Photograpers.

Today was Joe DiMaggio, "Original and Simple; Seven Essential Secrets to Outstanding Photography".

I have been having trouble with my quick release plate since my son used it to record him gaming. The plate just does not grab the camera anymore - I think the blutac has given up.

You use blutac for everything. Don't you? I use it to hold open my aperture when I reverse my lens. I use it to hold the camera tight to the plate. (But it is not working now). You just never know when you might need a wee bit of blutac, so I have some on my tripod, and some on my camera. My daughter thinks it looks disgusting . . .

Joe states that he uses that non slip stuff - you know - the stuff with the holes in it that you put in your drawers so that your glasses don't slide about. Or on the shelves on the yacht, so that stuff stays in place when you lean. I have even seen some people with it on their dashboard in the car.

Anyway. Joe puts this stuff between the plate and the camera, between the plate and the tripod. Wherever it is needed.

So today - two tips. Blutac and non slip stuff.

Watch the vid - Joe is very entertaining.

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Thursday, 24 July 2014

25th July 2014

Wow - my first ever blog post!

Today I watched a video called “Being Creative and Getting the Shot”. An inspirational seminar by  Frank Doorhof. I love the way he uses light.  Now I just want to go and play with light . . .

Click here for my website